With an NBA-affiliated scout in attendance, fifth-year senior Brian Cusworth did not disappoint.
Cusworth had his second strong performance of the early season, tying a career high with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. He was a perfect 2-of-2 from behind the arc, and added three big rejections on defense.
“I thought Brian was very effective in the low post,” coach Frank Sullivan said. “He threw a couple decent passes, he had some turnovers, but I think he’s off to a very good start.”
Cusworth was harder on himself in light of the narrow defeat.
“The way we look at it, we have more experience than the BU team at almost every position,” he said. “Unfortunately, they got way too many threes, and we didn’t take care of the ball. I take that personally, because I turned the ball over probably more than anybody.”
Cusworth’s four turnovers tied with Drew Housman for a team high. Cusworth made up for the turnovers with a 75 percent field goal percentage for the game, yet the offense seemed to rely less on him in crunch time.
“We wanted to get [Goffredo] more engaged in the process of the game,” Sullivan explained. “There was the feeling that we’d established ourselves in the low post. We had them swarming to [Cusworth], and we thought, ‘Now we can get a couple threes.’”
Last year’s Crimson squad earned the dubious honor of being the only team in the Ivy League for which all five starters averaged over 30 minutes of playing time per game. But early action this year demonstrates Sullivan’s desire to use more players off the bench.
“Hopefully we’re going to have a deeper bench this year,” Sullivan said. “The development of the bench is absolutely a goal of this team.”
In the first half of last night’s contest, 10 Harvard players played four or more minutes. By the end of the contest, seven players had played at least 18 minutes, with sophomore Brad Unger and freshman Jeremy Lin coming off the bench to record 20 and 21 minutes, respectively.
Unger scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting, while Lin handled point guard duties for the majority of the stretch run.
“Jeremy [Lin] did a good job in the backcourt,” Sullivan said. “The goal will be to not have [Goffredo] go 38 minutes, not have [Cusworth] go 35 or 38 minutes.”
Boston University’s offense relied on picks and quick passes that led to open three-pointers, in direct contrast to a Harvard attack that depended on exploiting its size advantage in the low post.
Indeed, the Crimson looked to Cusworth on most of its first-half possessions, leading to 14 points from the big man in the opening frame. The Terriers, on the other hand, created open three-pointers with a unique offensive scheme.
“It’s a big departure from BU,” Sullivan said of the Terriers’ new style of play. “They’ve never played this way. They’ve been a power team, an inside-oriented team. Now they’ve gone to this alignment offensively that can be quite effective.”
BU shot 7-of-13 from behind the arc in the first half. Harvard switched back and forth between a man-to-man and zone defense, but struggled to stop the sharp-shooting Terriers.
While BU cooled off a bit in the second half, shooting 4-of-13 from three-point land, the large number of uncontested looks enabled the Terriers to open up their offense.
—Staff writer Stewart H. Hauser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org